Social media has long been synonymous with “owned” or “earned” media -- the kind you don’t actually pay for. But a new survey commissioned by Nielsen unit Vizu
indicates that three-quarters of advertisers are spending on paid social advertising and nearly two-thirds (64%) plan to increase their social ad budgets this year.
That’s welcome news to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others as they ramp up paid ad opportunities on their respective platforms. Still, social media budgets remain relatively small. Last year, the vast majority (70%) of companies earmarked 1% to 10% of overall ad spending to social media, with only 13% allotting 21% or more.
And while social ad spending is expected to rise this year, the increases will be modest. Four in 10 marketers plan to grow paid social ad budgets by 1%-10%, while 15% said they expect to increase budgets by 11%-20%, and 11% by 21% or more. The increase in social ad spending will often come at the expense of other online and offline marketing channels, including online display.
Social might be growing even faster as an ad category if businesses had better means of gauging its effectiveness. A lack of standard metrics for measuring ROI remains a major stumbling block. Less than one-third of both advertisers and agencies said social advertising is effective and produces measurable ROI.
Two-thirds of advertisers said social ads “move the needle” when used with other efforts, or is a promising new tactic, but they’re not sure how to assess how well they work.
The study noted that many marketers are using things such as “likes,” “pins” and click-throughs to evaluate campaign results, but prefer to apply more traditional metrics. More than half of advertisers and two-thirds of agencies said a clear link between social advertising and sales would increase their use of the medium. Many want to see a link to brand lift.
“It is not a coincidence that these metrics translate to both offline and online mediums,” stated the report. “Media buyers should ensure that they are using these relevant metrics to get an accurate assessment of campaign ROI.”
That’s especially true since paid social media is mainly being used as part of broader branding campaigns. Two thirds of advertisers run social ads with other online advertising; 51% do so with offline advertising. Social ads typically run most often in conjunction with online display, online video and mobile efforts.
As part of cross-platform campaigns, marketers want to use the same metrics for social ads that they use for online and traditional media. “Very few media sellers, however, can actually provide this,” according to the study. Only 11% said they could provide the same metrics as offline along with some measures specific to online.
We are indeed seeing increases in social marketing spend this year. No surprise, it's because brands are realizing they can get measurable returns on their social spend through a variety of channels (e.g. paid media that drive social behavior). Combined with the right analytics and back-end integration, we can more clearly see results and ROI from social. It's clear we’re moving beyond the era of brands garnering likes, fans and followers to focus on driving significant ROI through social.
Brands should be investing more into relevant branded content...the currency for engagement on social platforms is entertaining, daily content. Relevant branded content allows a brand to be invited into a conversation that their target audience is having the moment that the conversation bubbles up. Highly relevant content is shared more rapidly within social networks. This is how you engage and build your audience.
The social platforms are pushing marketers to pay for awareness and engagement; this should come as no surprise. Now, the key for the marketers is to find the best balance among types of content, whether paid promotional content (stories, video, etc,) or shorter form display ads. I agree with Lane Murphy, the regular flow of longer form content is likely to achieve the best results over time on social platforms. But brands must invest not just in content, but rigorous, relentless measurement of results and trends. One method won't work forever to raise and maintain audience engagement, or garner conversions at the same or increasing rate. Adjustment will be needed, and the willingness to invest for expert staff or agencies to manage this intensive effort daily will be essential.
Any brand that attempts to execute social engagement on auto-pilot is doomed to fail.
As the VP of sales & Business Development at Campalyst it bewilders me to hear this since our enterprise-level social media management suite allows users to more efficiently and effectively manage their social presence across multiple networks (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc) and multiple screens (Browser, Tablet & Mobile) and is the only product in the industry that can track both last-click & indirect conversions (i.e., a user is exposed to an ad, engages with a piece of branded content and the next day or even a week later goes directly to a retailers site and makes a purchase). By giving you valuable insight into when your customers are buying, how much they are spending and most importantly what social channels and which platforms most drive your online revenue…..you will be able to track sales from your social efforts all the way down to individual facebook posting and tweet update levels.
Our turn-key publishing platform coupled with advanced analytics allows marketers to manage (publish, listen, track, analyze) everything they are doing in the social space from their paid, owned & earned media efforts and boil it down to how it is impacting their actual business results. With detalied insights into their consumers social graphs, brands will now understand exactly how/why social influences the path to purchase and better connect social initiaves to bottom line ROI.
If you are interested in learning more please dont hesitate to contact me.
Sloan C. Sehr
Vice President, Sales & Business Development